The Role of Language in Teaching Local Environmental Issues to Emergent Bilingual Latinx Students in Wisconsin
Diego Roman

About the research


NAEd/Spencer Postdoctoral Fellowship

Award Year



University of Wisconsin-Madison

Primary Discipline

Second Language Learning/Bilingual Education
Human actions are causing the decline of biodiversity, contributing to water pollution, and reducing the capacity of natural systems to sustain themselves. Yet, little is known about how to meaningfully teach environmental concepts to linguistically minoritized children who tend to live in low-income areas that disproportionately suffer the effects of environmental degradation. Drawing on Systemic Functional Linguistics, raciolinguistics, and culturally and linguistically relevant science education, this study examines the language used in district-adopted materials and by middle school science and ESL teachers in the teaching of local environmental issues to low-income Emergent Bilingual (EBs) Latinx students in west-central Wisconsin�a region that has experienced some of the largest growths of Latinx EBs in the state. This mixed-methods study will include functional linguistic discourse analyses of district-adopted materials, an online survey, in-depth teacher interviews, and classroom observations. Specific topics that will be examined are (a) linguistic and science/environmental complexity of sample texts extracted from state-adopted science textbooks, (b) teachers� practices in adapting materials to teach local environmental issues to the Latinx EBs; (c) teachers� perceptions of the language and cultural practices of the Latinx students. This work has implications for the education of linguistically minoritized students, science education, and environmental studies.
About Diego Roman
Dr. Diego Román is an Assistant Professor in Bilingual/Bicultural Education at the Department of Curriculum and Instruction at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Prior to this appointment, he was an Assistant Professor in Bilingual Education at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas. Dr. Román holds a B.S. degree in Agronomy from Zamorano University in Honduras and a M.S. degree in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater. He also earned a M.S. degree in Biology, a M.A. in Linguistics, and a Ph.D. degree in Educational Linguistics, all from Stanford University. At the K-12 level, Dr. Román taught middle school science to Emergent Bilinguals for seven years, first in rural Wisconsin and then in San Francisco, California. Dr. Román?s research interests are located at the intersection of applied linguistics, bilingual education, and science education. Specifically, he investigates the implicit and explicit ideologies reflected in the design and implementation of bilingual and science education programs particularly on how environmental topics are taught to multilingual students. He conducts his research from a Systemic Functional Linguistics perspective by analyzing the linguistic and multimodal characteristics of the discourse that take place in bilingual and science classrooms. Dr. Román has researched the language used to teach climate change at the middle school level and is currently examining science, environmental, and bilingual programs (Spanish/English and Kichwa/Spanish) in rural Wisconsin and in the Galapagos Islands, Ecuador.

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